Thursday, January 31, 2013

French intervention in Mali Where have the jihadists gone?

WHEN French soldiers blazed into the northern city of Gao on January 26th, they won the decisive victory of a three-week-old campaign to dislodge jihadists. But only when they paraded through the mud-built streets of the mystical town of Timbuktu two days later did the triumph feel real. Rebels in remote Kidal, their last redoubt, may still hold some sway but reportedly want to negotiate.

France is keen to present the intervention as a joint effort with African forces, yet its soldiers did not wait around for Nigerians, Senegalese, Ivorians and various others to arrive. Some 2,900 French troops, accompanied by a thousand-plus Malians, carried out a swift assault on the three big towns in Mali’s vast desert reaches that had been occupied by al-Qaeda-led rebels since last April.